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Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to

Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Kenjiro Fukao
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University
1. Introduction
Psychic seizures are defined as simple partial seizures manifesting themselves as psychic
phenomena. Their current classification is neither comprehensive nor rational enough,
mainly because psychic seizures are defined as subjective phenomena and not as objective
dysfunctions. The high incidence of psychiatric symptoms in patients with temporal lobe
epilepsy (TLE) is not only resulted from misdiagnosis but causally linked to psychic
seizures. In this article the relationship between psychic seizures and various psychiatric
disturbances found in TLE patients is discussed from a clinical viewpoint. Psychosis in
TLE patients has historically been of special interest, whose relationship with
schizophrenia is still unresolved. In this article the possible effect of psychic seizures on
the generation of psychosis in TLE patients is discussed based on the authors own data
obtained from magnetoencephalographic localization of psychic seizures and psychosis in
TLE patients.

2. Psychic seizures and their classification

Psychic seizures have been classified from a practical viewpoint into cognitive, emotional,
mnemonic seizures and miscellaneous. In the following, psychic seizures are described
according to the current classification (Fish, 1997), and the limitation of the current
classification is discussed.
2.1 Cognitive seizures
Cognitive (or dyscognitive) seizures indicate disturbances of cognitive functions by seizure
activities. Although theoretically disturbances of higher cognitive functions cannot be
localized only to temporal lobes, as they are realized by collaboration of many circuits all
around the brain, clinically cognitive seizures are most often observed in TLE.
2.1.1 Perceptual illusions
Perceptual illusion are defined as various kinds of illusions in perception in any mode of
senses (Penfield & Jasper, 1954). Historically various kinds of perceptual illusions have been
described as psychic seizures, for example, increase and decrease of the size of objects


Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

(macropsia and micropsia, respectively), augmentation and diminution of stereoscopy in

visual mode. There are also corresponding auditory phenomena, namely, increase and
decrease of the volume of sounds and various alterations of hearing sounds.
From the present point of view, these phenomena can be understood as dysfunctions of
higher sensory processing, both visual and auditory modes of which are made in the
temporal necortex. In this sense, perceptual illusions could be classified as sensory
Whereas higher cognitive functions in general tend to be disturbed by seizure activities,
facilitation is also seen among lower cognitive functions. Thus micropsia, the most often
seen phenomenon of this kind, could be either augmentation of distant sight or diminution
of near sight.
2.1.2 Aphasic seizures
Sensory and motor aphasias can appear as simple partial seizures, although these
disturbances would appear more frequently as postictal symptoms which are observed after
complex partial seizures involving the speech-dominant hemisphere. On the other hand,
occasionally abundant but empty speech is observed after complex partial seizures
involving the non-dominant hemisphere. This is regarded as a release phenomenon rather
than a stimulated symptom, whereas aphasias are defective symptoms.
2.1.3 Higher cognitive seizures
Higher cognitive functions in general tend to be disturbed by epileptic seizures, and
combinations of disturbances of various cognitive functions bring about the states called
complex partial seizures. It is worth remembering that concept of complex partial seizures,
characterized by impairment of consciousness, had implied originally combinations of
elementary partial seizures, each of which interferes each of cognitive functions. While
impairment of consciousness is defined by lacks of responsiveness and memory
registration, these two lacks can be caused by disturbances of elementary cognitive
functions. For example, combination of sensory aphasia, apraxia and amnesia could hardly
be differentiated from impairment of consciousness.
Although it is hard to suppose that any of higher cognitive functions might be facilitated,
instead of disturbed, by seizure activities, as higher cognitive functions are thought to be
realized by exquisite collaborations of many elementary circuits, there remains the
possibility of epileptic facilitation. At least, some patients report subjective sense of transient
facilitation of general cognition and it sounds like a mystic experience.
2.1.4 Depersonalization and derealization
Depersonalization and derealization can be caused by seizure activities. These phenomena
could be interpreted as weak forms of complex partial seizure or impairment of
consciousness. Some patients complain of absurdity about the surroundings during the
seizure (Penfield & Jasper, 1954), which can be interpreted as some peculiar kind of
alteration of perception of the surroundings, presumably similar to derealization.

Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


2.2 Emotional seizures

Emotional seizures can basically be epileptic induction of any kind of emotion. In reality,
however, this category is almost solely used for ictal fear, namely, fearful or anxious
emotion induced by seizure activities. Although there are actually cases showing pleasant
emotions as seizure symptoms, their incidence is decisively lower than that of fear, anxiety,
sadness or loneliness. The reason why those negative emotions are much more often
induced by epileptic seizures than positive ones might be explained that the neural structure
relevant to emotions, amygdala, is tend to respond as negative when stimulated grossly,
corresponding to an evolutionally lower hierarchy in emotional system.
Incidentally, embarrassment has also been suggested to be a possible type of emotional
seizure (Devinsky et al., 1982), which is a social emotion and thought to reside in a rather
high hierarchy, presumably anteromedial frontal lobes, although occurring with much
lower incidence.
Regarding the possibility that seizure activities inhibit, instead of induce, any of the
emotions, there has been no consideration as far as the author knows. Although it is
theoretically possible, thought to be very difficult to detect in practice.
2.3 Mnemonic seizures
Mnemonic or dysmnesic seizures, which mean seizures causing dysfunction of memory,
include amnesia, recollection and reminiscence, dj vu, jamais vu and experiential
hallucination induced by seizure activities. As it is known that temporal lobe is the most
important part of the brain for memory function, it is reasonable that seizure activities
residing in temporal lobes cause various derangements of memory function.
2.3.1 Amnesia
The simplest effect of seizure activities on memory functions is a negative one, namely,
amnesia. Although clinically it is difficult to differentiate from complex partial seizures with
impairment of consciousness, there are actually pure amnesic seizures in some TLE
patients with seizure activities confined within hippocampus (Palmini et al., 1992).
2.3.2 Experiential hallucination
Experiential hallucination is defined as hallucination of any mode of sense which is related
to the patient's personal experiences and can be regarded as reappearance and projection of
memorized images (Penfield & Jasper, 1954). Each mode of sense is involved either solely or
in combination resulting in appearance of audiovisual images just like fragments of movies.
The mode most frequently involved is auditory. Patients often report the voices calling their
name at the time of the first attack in their childhood.
Experiential hallucination of only olfactory or gustatory mode is hard to be discerned,
because hallucination of these primitive modes of sense easily evoke associated memory
recall with multiple sensory images, and associated images could hardly be separated from
the initial ictal hallucination.


Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

2.3.3 Recollection and reminiscence

Ictal recollection is autonomous remembrance of past experiences induced by seizure
activities. Contrasted to experiential hallucination, sensuous property of recollection is
not strong, and its content is confined within the inner space, not projected to the outer.
Emotions accompanying the past experience are often revived. The content of recollection
is ordinarily limited to the same every time, although it may change in course of time, in
the time scale of years. The content is occasionally the scene that the patient experienced
the first attack, apparently resembling traumatic recollection. This resemblance is not only
coincidental, because the patients impression of the first attack is thought to be very
strong and therefore memorized particularly strongly, that is comparable to traumatic
Reminiscence is a weaker form of recollection, which does not make any concrete image
within the inner space and is experienced only as a feeling of remembering something.
2.3.4 Dj vu
Dj vu (or dj vcu) is a paradoxical feeling of knowing things that is never known by the
subject. It is not rare in healthy people and therefore not necessarily a pathological
phenomenon. Ictal dj vu tends to be, however, stronger and longer than healthy ones.
Emotion accompanying ictal dj vu is often nostalgic and pleasant, but some patients feel
uncanny and uneasy. Penfield suggested that ictal dj vu should be caused by incomplete
recollection and mixed perception of the present environment and the past one (Penfield &
Jasper 1954). Whereas, Gloor suggested that dj vu should be caused by misidentification
resulted from deterioration of matching mechanism by seizure activities (Gloor 1990).
Recent studies suggested that dj vu is appearance of a special sense of familiarity
separable from either recollection or identification, whose neural substrate is supposed to be
parahippocampal gyri (Spatt 2002).
2.3.5 Jamais vu
Jamais vu (or jamais vcu) is thought as the opposite of dj vu, namely, a feeling of not
knowing things that is already known by the subject. It is, however, much more difficult to
understand the mechanism than dj vu. Ictal jamais vu is much rarer than ictal dj vu and
seems hard to induce by electrical stimulation. In addition, practically jamais vu is hard to
be differentiated from derealization. Emotion accompanying ictal jamais vu is usually
anxiety or uneasiness, with rare exception of pleasant freshness.
2.3.6 Prescience
There is a special kind of psychic seizure called prescience, which indicates a sense of
knowing what is going to happen from now on (Sadler et al., 2004). While it is theoretically
difficult to take prescience as a disorder of memory, which is bound only to the past and
never to the future, practically prescience is frequently seen in combination with dj vu. It
seems necessary to clarify what is the common between dj vu and prescience, which may
be the clue to understand the mechanism of dj vu.

Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


2.4 Miscellaneous
There are various kinds of psychic phenomenon evocated by seizure activities, which are
difficult to be classified under any rubric of cognitive, emotional and mnemonic. Here are
described only some of them.
2.4.1 Forced thinking
Forced thinking is a comparatively often found type of psychic seizure. It is an autonomous
appearance of a fixed thought induced by seizure activities. Apparently it resembles
obsession, but it does not necessarily evoke anxiety as obsession does. Some patients take
the thought as a gift from the god and develop religious delusion.
2.4.2 Changes of time perception
Some TLE patients report changes of time perception, namely, increase or decrease of the
speed in which surroundings proceed. They are experienced just like quick motion or slow
motion of the movies. While these phenomena are usually reported only in visual mode
without corresponding changes in auditory mode, some patients complain of feeling that
others speeches abruptly change into being too quick to understand.
2.4.3 Autoscopy and out-of-body experience
Autoscopic phenomena have been reported as manifestations of temporal, parietal and
occipital lobe epilepsies (Devinsky et al., 1989). Autoscopic hallucinations, in which a mirror
image of the patient is seen, is supposed to originate from the parieto-occipital lobes
preferentially of the right side (Maillard et al., 2004). Dramatic type of autoscopy, in which
the patient see himself/herself act independently from his/her will, just as seeing a movie,
is reported mainly as hallucinations appearing during postictal confusional states of TLE.
Out-of-body experience, in which the patient feels like seeing himself/herself from the
outside of his/her body, is reported to originate from temporo-parietal junctions (Blanke et
al., 2004). These autoscopic phenomena induced by seizures could be understood as
distortion of body scheme, although the displacement of the viewpoint in out-of-body
experiences is hard to explain.
2.4.4 Feeling of a presence
Feeling of a presence is a hallucinatory feeling as if someone is nearby. This phenomenon is
most often observed in TLE patients and seemingly related to ictal fear. It is also interesting
from the viewpoint of the similarity to a type of psychotic hallucination observed in
2.5 Problems in the classification of psychic seizures
The essential difficulty in the classification of psychic seizures is that they are defined as
subjective phenomena and not as objective dysfunctions. Observation of their existence in
the patients depends solely on the patients report, which is often not reliable because of
insufficiency of the patients ability to express the phenomena in his/her words.


Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

From a clinical point of view, current classification of psychic seizures is regarded as the
minimum but still usable. On the other hand, from a scientific point of view, replacing the
term by limbic seizures, which has been done in a standard textbook (Engel &
Williamson, 2008) seems immature because the neural substrates of psychic seizures have
not been sufficiently determined, although a large part of them seems to be localized to
limbic structures. Furthermore, our data has suggested the conflicting possibility, as
shown in the following.
2.6 Co-existence of psychic seizures and other simple partial seizures in TLE
Aiming at objectifying psychic seizures, the author performed an investigation on existence
and co-existence of psychic seizures and other simple partial seizures in 38 TLE patients.
The patients with TLE were investigated on existence and co-existence of autonomic,
auditory, olfactory and psychic seizures, which were subclassified into fear/anxiety, dj
vcu, jamais vcu, reminiscence, forced thinking, visual alteration and others.
The sides of the focus of the patients are left in 16, right in 17 and bilateral or not determined
in 5 patients.
Fifteen patients had autonomic seizures (5 left, 8 right and 2 undetermined), 23 had psychic
seizures (10 left, 10 right and 3 undetermined), 8 had auditory seizures (3 left, 4 right and 1
undetermined), 2 had olfactory seizures (1 left and 1 right) and none had gustatory seizures.
Subclassified psychic seizures were dj vcu in 11 (6 left, 4 right and 1 undetermined),
reminiscence in 10 (4 left, 4 right and 2 undetermined), fear/anxiety in 5 (2 left, 3 right),
jamais vcu in 2 (0 left and 2 right), forced thinking in 2 (0 left and 2 right) and visual
alteration in 2 (1 left and 1 right) (Table 1).

Autonomic seizures
Auditory seizures
Olfactory seizures
Gustatory seizures
Psychic seizures
dj vcu
jamais vcu
forced thinking
visual alteration





Bilateral or

Table 1. The type of simple partial seizure and the side of the focus in the subject group.
Co-existence among each of the subcategories of psychic seizure was as follows:
fear/anxiety and reminiscence in 2, dj vcu and reminiscence in 2, fear/anxiety and dj
vcu in 1, etc.

Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


Co-existence between the subcategories of psychic seizure and each type of simple partial
seizure was as follows: 3 out of the 5 patients with fear/anxiety, 2 out of the 11 with dj
vcu, 4 out of the 10 with reminiscence and 1 out of the 2 with forced thinking had also
autonomic seizures; 4 out of the 11 with dj vcu, 1 out of the 2 with jamais vcu, 2 out of
the 10 with reminiscence and both the 2 patients with visual alteration had also auditory
seizures; 1 out of the 11 with dj vcu, 1 out of the 2 with jamais vcu, 1 out of the 10 with
reminiscence had also olfactory seizures.
The results are schematically visualized in Fig. 1 where simple partial seizures are connected
each other by the bonds with breadth corresponding to the number of patients. It is
noteworthy that the connections between autonomic seizures and the subcategories of
psychic seizure are not significantly stronger than those between auditory seizures and
them. This result suggests that psychic seizures should not necessarily be based solely on
temporolimbic dysfunctions but also on dysfunction of temporal neocortex.

Fig. 1. Co-existence of simple partial seizures and different types of psychic seizure
In summary, co-existence was not conformed between subcategories of psychic seizure and
other types of simple partial seizure, and it was fairly rare among subcategories of psychic
seizure. Consequently, it seems adequate to assume considerably independent neural
networks for the neural basis of different psychic seizures.

3. Various psychiatric disturbances accompanying TLE

TLE patients manifest psychiatric disturbances with significantly higher incidence than
normal population. The explanation of this fact is not satisfactory that generally patients
with chronic medical problem are inclined to have psychiatric disturbances. It is supposed


Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

that in some proportion of patients epileptic activities by themselves are the cause of the
psychiatric symptoms. In this context, amygdalar dysfunction in TLE is the most important.
3.1 Depression and dysphoria
Epilepsy patients show a higher tendency of having depression than normal population
(Barry et al., 2007). As it is well-known that depression is frequently seen in the patients
with chronic diseases in general, the frequency of depression in epilepsy patients could
partly be ascribed to the fact that epilepsy is one of them.
Whereas, it has long been told that epilepsy patients have a special kind of mood disorder,
which is not simply depressive or manic, but of periodical character. It is called interictal
dysphoric disorder (Blumer et al., 2004). The mechanism of this syndrome is not well
clarified, but it is thought to have some causal relationship with seizure activities, because it
seems that the mood change depends on the appearance of seizures. Namely, there is a
tendency that depressive mood is strengthened before the appearance of seizures and manic
mood appears after it. Although interictal dysphoric disorder is not confined to TLE, it is
most often seen in patients with TLE and its mechanism is supposed to be related to
amygdalar dysfunction.
3.2 Anxiety disorders
Epilepsy patients are inclined to develop anxiety disorders. One reason is purely
psychological, namely, they are naturally anxious about presenting seizures in public and
this anxiety can become pathologically strong. Especially those who have auras perceived
only by themselves can get psychologically conditioned and present panic attacks triggered
by perceiving auras. Furthermore, there is possible enhancement of conditioning in TLE
patients based on amygdalar dysfunction. Ictal fear can by itself condition panic attack,
because panic attack and ictal fear are in common supposed to be the results of paroxysmal
dysfunction of amygdala. Moreover, amygdalar dysfunction may cause anxiety symptoms
also in a persistent form, represented as generalized anxiety disorder.
3.3 Psychosomatic inclination
As amygdala contains also the center of autonomic system, its dysfunction may cause
various autonomic disorders. For example, epilepsy patients are often sensitive to the
moisture and have seizures at the time of the passing of a rain front. Another example is the
sensitivity to the lights which are not flashing or flickering lights inducing photosensitivity,
but glimmering lights from the cloudy sky. Psychosomatic inclination among epilepsy
patients may be ascribed not only to the pure psychological complication but also to the
amygdalar dysfunction directly linked to the epileptic activities.
3.4 Aggressivenss or explosiveness
Historically epilepsy patients have been believed to have aggressive tendency in general,
and aggressiveness or explosiveness has been regarded as a component of so-called
epileptic personality change, which is most remarkable in TLE patients. In reality, it is not so
often to find extraordinary aggressiveness in epilepsy patients at present, probably due to

Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


the propagation of anticonvulsant medication from early stages of the disease.

Aggressiveness observed in some TLE patients may be understood by amygdalar
dysfunction, because stimulation of amygdala is known to cause not only fear and anxiety
but also aggression.
3.5 Obsessive-compulsive disorder
It has long been known that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is frequently seen in TLE
patients. The mechanism of the comorbidity of OCD and TLE is supposed to be plural, one
of which being comorbidity of autism spectrum disorder and TLE. However, it seems
certain that there are some cases in which confined epileptic activities cause obsessivecompulsive behavior. To date, laterality and subdivision within the temporal lobe of the
focus causing OCD is not determined.
3.6 Epileptic personality change
Epileptic personality change or a special kind of personality disorder caused by
suffering epilepsy has long been discussed and remains under dispute. Several elements
such as viscosity, circumstantiality, explosiveness, and religiosity have been believed to
characterize this type of personality change. Although believed to be caused by epilepsy,
because it becomes increasingly manifest as the duration of the illness increases, it is
regarded as non-specific organic personality change by some researchers (Slater et al.,
1963). According to Bear and Fedio (1977), the elements included in epileptic personality
change are: 1. humorlessness or sobriety, 2. sadness or depression, 3. emotionality, 4.
circumstantiality, 5. philosophical interest, 6. sense of personal destiny, 7. viscosity or
interpersonal stickiness, 8. dependence, 9. aggression, 10. obsessionality, 11. paranoia or
suspiciousness, 12. sense of guilt, 13. hypergraphia or excessive writing, 14. changes to or
diminution of sexual drive, 15. hypermorality, 16. religiosity, 17. elation or mood change,
and 18. anger or irritability.
Gastaut and Waxman and Geschwind attempted to treat these features in
neuropsychological style (Gastaut, 1956; Waxman & Geschwind, 1975). In particular, the
personality change characteristic of TLE (limbic epilepsy personality syndrome; LEPS) was
interpreted as the opposite of Klver-Bucy syndrome, which is a group of symptoms seen in
monkeys and humans with bilateral anterior temporal lesions. Whereas Klver-Bucy
syndrome comprises (1) oral tendency or cognitive deficit, (2) indifference or diminution of
emotionality, (3) hypermetamorphosis or difficulty in attention fixation and (4) increase in
sexual activity, LEPS comprises (1) strengthened cognition, (2) increased emotionality, (3)
viscosity or difficulty in attention shift and (4) diminution or alteration of sexual activity.
This apparent opposition has been explained by interictal epileptic activities within the
temporolimbic structures (Gastaut, 1956), or sensory-limbic hyperconnection established
by a kindling effect (Bear, 1979). In any case, the explanation is based on the positive or
excessive function of the temporolimbic structures.
The author has shown a case which suggests presumed persistent seizure activities confined
around the right amygdala had caused acute psychosis and rapid development of epileptic
personality change (Fukao, 2010).


Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

3.7 Psychosis in TLE

Psychosis in TLE patients is a rather independent problem, which has a long history of
research and dispute. The question whether psychosis in epilepsy patients or epileptic
psychosis is peculiar and different from schizophrenia and other psychoses is still
unresolved (Gibbs, 1951; Slater et al., 1963). Although some studies suggested that epileptic
psychosis is nothing but enhanced occurrence of schizophrenia in people with epilepsy and
that there is no significant difference in the symptomatology between them (Adachi et al.,
2011). However, it is frequently seen that symptoms of psychic seizures appear in the
episodes of acute psychosis in TLE patients.
Importance has been attached to the distinction between acute and chronic forms of
psychosis in epilepsy patients, because the acute form is clinically hard to discriminate from
postictal confusional state that is not genuinely psychotic. However, since the recognition of
postictal psychosis diffentiated from postictal confusional state (Logsdail & Toone, 1988),
different mechanism is supposed for acute psychosis in TLE patients from confusion or
impairment of consciousness, for example, hyperarousal after the cluster of seizures
(Wolf, 1991). On the other hand, progression from postictal acute psychosis into chronic
psychosis was confirmed in substantial part of TLE patients (Tarulli et al., 2001). It is,
therefore, uncertain whether the distinction between acute and chronic forms of psychosis in
TLE patients is really important or not.
Furthermore, some part of psychosis occurring among TLE patients are apparently induced
by anticonvulsant drugs. Some anticonvulsant drugs like topiramate and zonisamide are
evidently more prone to induce psychiatric disturbances than others, while there has been a
general concept of forced normalization that means the reciprocal appearance of psychotic
disorders when the patients seizures were inhibited by any drugs (Krishnamoorthy &
Trimble, 1999).
One point to be clarified in the problem of psychosis in TLE is the relationship between
psychic seizures and psychosis, which has not been confirmed by clinical evidence. The
author addressed this point by magnetoencephalographic study on TLE patients as
described below (Fukao et al., 2009; Fukao et al., 2010).

4. Magnetoencephalographic localization of psychic seizures and psychosis

in TLE
In this section the author s data obtained from magnetoencephalographic (MEG)
localization of epileptic activities in TLE patients is described briefly and its implication on
the relationship between psychic seizures and psychosis is discussed.
4.1 Methods
4.1.1 Patients
The subject of this study comprises 57 patients who had been diagnosed as having TLE
based on EEG findings and clinical symptoms. Out of the 57 patients, all having complex
partial seizures, those who had autonomic seizures were 25 in numbers, those with

Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


auditory seizures were 10 and those with psychic seizures were 16. Six patients had both
autonomic and psychic seizures, and 5 patients had both auditory and psychic seizures.
One patient had all of the three types of aura. One patient had psychic, olfactory and
gustatory seizures, and another patient had only olfactory seizures. Those who had no
aura were 16.
Sixteen out of the 57 patients had history of psychosis, whether chronic or episodic. Age of
the patients with psychosis ranged from 20 to 46 (mean = 29) years old and the mean
duration of the illness was 19 years. Eight out of the 16 patients had chronic psychosis and
the remaining 8 had episodic psychosis.
4.1.2 Magnetoencephalographic measurements and spike-dipole typing
MEG measurements were performed using Magnetic Source Imager (a dual sensor system
containing 37 channels of first order gradiometer in each sensor; Biomagnetic Technologies
Inc., San Diego, CA, USA), whose sensors were positioned symmetrically on both temporal
regions of the patients, with simultaneous recordings of scalp EEG which helped the
examiner find epileptiform discharges. MEG was recorded as epochs each of which
consisted of a 6 seconds segment including 5 seconds before and 1 second after the trigger
by manual button press. The sampling rate was 200 Hz. The duration of the recording
session was 1.5-2 hours including the time needed to place EEG electrodes on the scalp.
After filtering the all MEG epochs by 3-30 Hz digital band-pass filter, equivalent current
dipoles of magnetic spikes collected (spike-dipoles) were calculated off-line by the attached
software, and overlaid on MR images.
Clustering of spike-dipoles was approved only when more than 10 dipoles show
concentration within a cube with edges of 3 cm. Then spike-dipole clusters found in the
patients were classified according to anatomical localization and orientation of the dipoles.
As a preparation of the study, we classified the patients according to the type of clustering
of magnetic spike-dipoles. We found two major types of the pattern of clustering of spikedipoles in the patients. One of which is positioned on the lower part of the temporal lobe
and oriented from anterior toward posterior as shown in Fig. 2, and we name this
inferotemporal-horizontal (IH) type. The other is positioned on the upper part of the
temporal lobe and oriented from superior toward inferior as shown in Fig. 3, and we name
this superotemporal-vertical (SV) type. Of the 57 patients showing spike-dipole clusters,
33 patients showed IH type of spike-dipole and 27 showed SV type. Among them 10
patients showed both types, ipsilaterally in 8 and contralaterally in 2. Three patients had
bilateral SV type, and one had bilateral IH type. None had more than two spike-dipole
clusters. Thus 88% of the patients had either IH type or SV type of spike-dipole, and the
presence of the two types were statistically exclusive (Fishers exact test: p = 0.027). In the
following studies, we investigated only these two, or four, when each divided into two
according to the side, types of spike-dipole.
4.1.3 Correlation analyses
Correlation analyses were performed using Fishers exact test between these four types and
the presence of autonomic, auditory and psychic seizures and history of psychosis.


Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

Fig. 2. An example of IH (inferotemporal-horizontal) type of spike-dipole distribution.

Fig. 3. An example of SV (superotemporal-vertical) type of spike-dipole distribution.

4.2 Results
The results of the correlation analyses are summarized in Table 2. Left IH type positively
correlated to autonomic seizures. Right SV type positively correlated to both auditory and
psychic seizures. Left SV type positively correlated to history of psychosis.

IH type

Autonomic seizures

SV type



Auditory seizures
Psychic seizures

Table 2. The positive correlations between left and right IH and SV types of spike-dipoles
and autonomic, auditory and psychic seizures and psychosis.

Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


4.3 Interpretation
As IH type correlated not only to autonomic seizures on the left side but also correlated to
hippocampal sclerosis on both sides, it seems very certain that IH type of spike-dipole
should represent hippocampal or temporolimbic discharges. On the other hand, the
correlation of SV type to auditory seizures suggests that SV type should represent temporal
neocortical discharges.
In view of the discussion in section 2, the neural substrates of psychic seizures are supposed
to be interconnected networks within and around the temporal lobes. Therefore, the
correlation of SV type to psychic seizures suggests that SV type should represent also
interconnected networks. The correlation of SV type to psychosis should be interpreted in
the same way as psychic seizures, not as simple as auditory seizures.
It is, nevertheless, suggested by our results that temporolimbic discharges should not be
essential to psychic seizures and psychosis, compared to temporal neocortical discharges.
This is a remarkable finding in view of the other researches suggestion that temporolimbic
dysfunction should be essential to psychic seizures and psychosis.
The results described above imply that psychosis in TLE should be causally related to
epileptic activities occurring in the superior portion of the left temporal lobe. From the
neuropsychological viewpoint, the superior portion of the left temporal lobe is related to
the function of awareness. Therefore, while seizures occurring on the right side are
perceived by the patient as various psychic phenomena, those occurring on the left side
might not be perceived as such phenomena due to the disturbance of awareness.
Furthermore, prolonged seizure activities on the area might bring about the disturbance
of self-consciousness resulting in psychosis characterized as an ego disorder. Thus
psychosis in TLE patients might be caused by epileptic activities on the superior portion
of the left temporal lobe.
4.4 Magnetoencephalographys advantage in this study
More than a half century ago, Penfield wrote, The relationship of epileptic discharge, in
temporal cortex and in the gray matter that is hidden deep in the Sylvian fissure, to
psychotic states deserves exhaustive study (Penfield & Jasper, 1954). Our findings seem
to confirm his prediction. However, as neural activities detected by EEG and MEG are
same in origin, the reason why these findings became available only by MEG has to be
The key point is thought the orientation of the current of the epileptic discharges. As
magnetic field is produced around the electric current on the plane tangential to the current,
MEG can detect magnetic fields tangential to the corresponding neural currents. This
condition makes possibility that MEG could detect spike activities that are not detectable by
EEG. To be concrete, if spike generators existed deep within the Sylvian fissure, whether
frontal, parietal or temporal operculum, and those spikes would elude detection by scalp
EEG. In contrast, MEG can detect spike activities in considerably deep part of the cortex
within the fissure, as far as the originating current is tangential to the scalp, accordingly,
vertical to the fissure (Iwasaki et al., 2003). As can be seen, our SV type of spike-dipoles


Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

represents such deep current generators. Moreover, the elusiveness of deep Sylvian
discharges is also the case with intracranial recording using subdural electrodes, because
usually the electrodes are not inserted into the Sylvian fissure but laid striding over it. In
those cases with deep spike foci, therefore, MEG would be more powerful in spike detection
than subdural electrodes.

5. Conclusion
There are various kinds of psychic seizures, or psychic phenomena induced by seizure
activities in the brain and the classification is fundamentally difficult because of their
subjective nature. Although the neural substrates of psychic seizures are supposed to reside
mostly in temporal lobes, they are not necessarily localized and possibly some of them are
extensive networks. Various psychiatric disturbances observed in TLE patients should be
understood in relation to psychic seizures. Furthermore, because seizure activities may
inhibit psychic functions or induce negative phenomena, the concept of psychic seizures
could theoretically be extended to cognitive impairments induced by seizure activities,
which are clinically elusive. Our results from MEG studies suggest that cognitive
impairments induced by seizure activities on the left temporal lobe should lead to the
generation of psychosis in TLE patients. This is a novel finding and interpretation that MEG
made possible.

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Epilepsy Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects

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abnormality. Paradoxical or forced normalization. In: Smith D, Treiman D,
Trimble M. (Eds.) Advances in Neurology, Volume 55, pp. 127-142, Raven Press, New

Epilepsy - Histological, Electroencephalographic and

Psychological Aspects

Edited by Dr. Dejan Stevanovic

ISBN 978-953-51-0082-9
Hard cover, 276 pages
Publisher InTech

Published online 29, February, 2012

Published in print edition February, 2012

With the vision of including authors from different parts of the world, different educational backgrounds, and
offering open-access to their published work, InTech proudly presents the latest edited book in epilepsy
research, Epilepsy: Histological, electroencephalographic, and psychological aspects. Here are twelve
interesting and inspiring chapters dealing with basic molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying epileptic
seizures, electroencephalographic findings, and neuropsychological, psychological, and psychiatric aspects of
epileptic seizures, but non-epileptic as well.

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Kenjiro Fukao (2012). Psychic Seizures and Their Relevance to Psychosis in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy,
Epilepsy - Histological, Electroencephalographic and Psychological Aspects, Dr. Dejan Stevanovic (Ed.), ISBN:
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